Sheung Wan is an area west of Central and is considered part of Central and Western district. There’s nothing much for me to write about Sheung Wan apart from the fact that this is a place where the MTR Island line ends on the western part of Hong Kong island (although construction on extending the line further west into Kennedy Town is underway). If i could describe Sheung Wan i think it would be the part of HK that still retains the nostalgic feel of old Shanghai. Though many of the old buildings and ladder streets have made way to modern construction, Sheung Wan is a great place to explore on foot (as i did once) for its traditional shops and businesses. The place was one of the earliest occupied by the British, in fact, it is here at Possession Point, the foot of Possession Street where the Union Jack was first hoisted. The boundaries of Sheung Wan are difficult to define, but basically the district stretches from the Sheung Wan MTR station in the east to King George V Memorial Park and Eastern Street in the west. The harbour naturally is the northern border, while Hollywood Rd (shared with Central) is the southern limit.
To the regular tourist, apart from the old school style shops, there’s nothing quite interesting to be found in Sheung Wan. It is an area lined with commercial centres and retail outlets of local brand on one end to another. The main roads are Connaught Road West, Des Voeux Road West and Queen’s Road West. The Western Harbour Crossing (the underground tunnel connecting Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island) also makes way here as well as the ferry terminal to Macau, also located here. The eastern end towards the border to Central is lined with upmarket antique and carpet shops and trendy eateries. However, once you head west of Aberdeen Street the scene changes: you’ll soon be passing traditional wreath and coffin makers, as well as several funeral shops. Further west and you would find yourself hard to imagine that a few kilometers east you were in the midst of towering skyscrapers, humongous buildings and surrounded with modern architectures. Older shops and businesses can be found and along the pier bordering the harbor and you can see old people fishing for what you would consider as only disdain catch. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being in Sheung Wan but if you have time to spare, it’s good to travel here and traverse the many colours of life Sheung Wan have to offer.
Sightseeing: Apart from the old shops on the western end and the more modern stores on the east side, a few worth visiting places around Sheung Wan below.
Man Mo Temple: Located at 124-126 Hollywood Rd (MTR, Sheung Wan exit A2, it will be a long walk along Hillier Street after the exit onto Queen’s Road Central and then along Ladder Street until you reach the temple), this is an old18th-century temple. One of the oldest and most famous in HK, Man Mo is dedicated to two deities, one of which is Kwan Yu (or Kwan Tai), a Han-dynasty soldier born in the 2nd century AD and now venerated as the red-cheeked pot-bellied god of war; and he is holding a sword. Lord Kwan’s popularity in Hong Kong probably has more to do with his most famous (if not revered) status as the patron god of the Triads.
Possession Street: If you fancy some historical scene, head into this street where the first Union Jack was hoisted by the first British fleet descended upon the island to claim HK for the crown. There are no plaques to mark the spot though so you’d be only wandering a street just like any other generic streets in HK.
Man Wa Lane: Just near the MTR Sheung Wan station exit A1, is this narrow alley lane which intersect Des Voeux Road Central and Wing Lok Street. You can find stalls here which specialize in name stamp made out of wood/stone where they will carve your Chinese name character. It’s like the one you seen in those movies depicting ancient China where official documents stamped using this seal over red ink (their European counterpart use wax seal instead). This name stamp can be used as your ‘seal’ or signature on whatever documents you fancy. The vendors can create an auspicious Chinese name for you if you don’t already have one.
Shopping: There aren’t many shopping malls around Sheung Wan but a few departmental stores such as the Wing On Centre at 211, Des Voeux Road Central (MTR Sheung Wan, exit E3), the oldest departmental store in HK founded in Shanghai. You can found some small complexes on the ground floor of some big buildings and these complexes resembles more like our Mydin back home, since I never ventured into one I couldn’t tell you what do they have inside. The major shopping scene here is buying Chinese antiques and trinkets as souvenir. However, unless you speak Chinese then I would implore you to save on your HKD someplace else since if you can’t communicate, the vendor can sell you nothing and you can’t buy anything. If you do dare to venture, here’s some place worth checking out:
Cat Street (Upper Lascar Row): Located north of Hollywood Road and runs parallel with it, this street is a pedestrian only and officialy named Upper Lascar Row (I have no idea why they nick-named it Cat St.). This street is lined with antiques, cheap jewellery, ornaments, carvings and newly minted ancient coins. However, from what I read, most of the items and memorabilia here are mass-produced fakes. There is a proper shopping complex at the Cat Street Galleries with its three floors and selling the same things that can be found from the outside vendors (however, I cannot vouch for its authenticity and could probably be the same fakes found outside). You have to be really into this kind of things to venture here since Hollywood Road and this street is far from the nearest exit of Sheung Wan MTR station (the easiest is by Citybus no. 5 & 5A from Central that runs along Hollywoord Road).
Western Market: Located at Des Voeux Road Central & New Market Street (MTR Sheung Wan, exit B) you’ll find this market selling much of what you’d expect from a regular market such as knickknacks, jewellery, toys, cloths and fabrics. Not much really to see as the market seems to cater to locals. The top floor is a restaurant and wedding reception venue.
Hotels: There are a few trendy and boutique hotels already opening up here, leveraging on the unique fact that Sheung Wan is a very nostalgic area between the “Old” Hong Kong and the “New” Hong Kong. Although honestly, I have not been here quite regular enough and it’s very rare to have heard people coming to HK and staying at Shueng Wan to really be able to offer a reliable guide for hotels in this area.
Eating: Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there are no halal-certified restaurants to be found in Sheung Wan.